Steps For Improving Your Fishing Boat

With a limited amount of money to sink into your rig, here's a plan to make your old boat feel like new.

I've driven bass boats capable of 90-plus mph. As often as not, they had little in the way of fishability. I've driven other rigs that had poor performance, but were stable as a barge when we stopped to fish.

Boat-and-motor packages are often sold with a lower horsepower engine to keep the price down. Upgrading to a larger engine is a great way to improve your rig. â–ª Photo courtesy of Yamaha Motor.

Somewhere between the extremes is the ideal bass boat for you: A boat that obtains the best performance -- not necessarily the top speed -- and the fishability to suit your fishing style.

Often you can attain this by adding to, or upgrading, elements on your existing boat. Of course, some performance elements of a boat can't be changed -- the size and shape of the hull for instance, as well as the horsepower rating. But note that boat packages are often sold with a lower horsepower engine to keep the price down. Upgrading to a larger engine is often the first step to improving your package. Other elements can also be changed to provide better performance.


Several years ago I tested a "hot" new bass boat with David Greenwood of Suzuki. He had a trunk full of new propellors, and we spent hours changing out props and moving the engine up and down on the jackplate -- sometimes as little as 1/16 of an inch at a time. We finally achieved the right prop and engine-height combination that provided the best possible lift, hole shot, acceleration and speed. Not only was the boat fast, but you could drive it with your fingertips -- one of the most important aspects of performance in my opinion.

A wide range of props are available, and this is where you'll need the help of a pro. Your local dealer or prop shop can help you put together the right mix. Don't make the mistake many anglers do: They prop the boat before it's set-up to fish. Instead, fill the fuel tank, put two people in the boat, and load all your tackle and gear aboard. You'll get a realistic feel of its performance.


The next step is proper engine height. Most dealers and boat riggers have a set formula for engine height with different engines and boat hulls. But again, even a little adjustment can make a big performance difference.

A jackplate not only simplifies finessing engine height, but hydraulic jackplates can also be used as a running performance enhancer.

When a boat is underway, the hull actually pushes water down. And when the water comes out from under the hull, it has a lot of air and foam. The setback of the jackplate positions the engine farther back and away from the majority of the foam.

READ: Side Scan Fishing Technology Explained


If you're serious about bass fishing, my advice is to buy the best electronics you can afford. Side-imaging sonars, such as the Humminbird units or Lowrance's StructureScan add-on to their HDS units, provide a whole new "look" at bass fishing. And now Lowrance's new Down Imaging technology adds even more. The new technology provides an instant "snapshot" directly below the boat.


Upgrading to a wireless, GPS-controlled trolling motor can also make your fishing easier. Both Motor Guide and Minn Kota have units with these features. The technology, such as Minn Kota's i-Pilot, utilizes GPS positioning to allow you to record a track and then simply push a button to automatically fish along the track. And you can also use their spot-lock feature that works like an electronic anchor.


Many higher-end bass boats come with on-board chargers. More economically priced boats frequently do not, but this is one product that can save a lot of hassles and time. Units, such as the ProMariner XPS models from Bass Pro, utilize Transfer-On-Demand technology to maintain engine cranking battery while maximizing available charging amps to meet the demands of trolling motor batteries.

READ: Pro Tips For Maintaining Your Fishing Gear


The Power-Pole Shallow Water Anchor is basically an electronically controlled hydraulic anchor. It mounts on the transom of the boat and deploys in under 5 seconds. It allows you to stop your boat quickly and quietly with a touch of a button, and position the boat immediately where you want to make your cast.

Upgrades as well as add-ons can make your bass boat more efficient, safer, easier to drive and more pleasurable to fish.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You


No Kidding: Angler Smashes Record for Lake Trout

Scott Bernarde - May 21, 2019

The Pennsylvania man's trophy fish was more than two pounds heavier than the previous record.


Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.


Quick Tips: How to Spot and Stalk a Hog

Ian Nance - May 28, 2019

Try these tips to improve your wild boar hunting skill set.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor Hoody

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products helps OSG's Lynn Burkhead understand the new features of the new Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor sun protection hoody.

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...


Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.


10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range

See More Stories

More Other Freshwater

Other Freshwater

Now That's a Big Drum: Another Wyoming State Record Smashed

Game & Fish Online Staff - July 20, 2018

James Potter Jr.'s Wyoming-record freshwater drum weighed 22.58 pounds. (Photo courtesy of...

Other Freshwater

What You Need to Know About Gear Ratio

David Johnson - July 23, 2018

The new Abu Garcia Revo Rocket has a 10.1:1 gear ratio. (Photo by Scott Bernarde) Abu Garcia

Other Freshwater

Check Out Latest IGFA World Record Submissions

Game & Fish Online Staff - August 10, 2018

The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) gets world-record submissions on a regular...

See More Other Freshwater

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.